After 12 years of successfully organizing “Pancakes for Pancreatic Cancer” breakfasts to raise funds for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, the Gutmann family has some great advice for anyone interested in doing a fundraising event.

  • Make it fun
  • Don’t let the stress outweigh the enjoyment of hosting the event
  • Work together
  • Make every person who contributes (donor, volunteer, attendee) feel welcomed and appreciated
  • Take pictures to treasure the moments
  • Repeat: Have fun!

Ron Gutmann lost his battle to pancreatic cancer nearly 16 years ago. “Our dad wasn’t a talker, but his hugs were priceless,” Kristal Gutmann says about their father.

An otherwise healthy man, he was diagnosed in January of 2002 and passed away in August. “He truly valued family and took pride in his work as a self-employed contractor – he was known for his hard work. And he would have done anything for his family.”

The Gutmann family took that work ethic and applied it to creating an event in honor of their dad. “Pancakes for Pancreatic Cancer” started out as a bowling fundraiser. Dan Austin, a local DJ who had lost his mother-in-law to the disease mentioned that a pancake breakfast might be fun and 12 years later, the event has raised nearly $85,000 in total.

The family credits the growth of the event, which also includes a silent auction, to word-of-mouth, social media, and radio promotion thanks to that same local DJ and his station, K105 in Fort Wayne, Ind. Traditional flyers, a Facebook event page and a Fort Wayne Pancreatic Cancer Awareness page also helped spread the word, along with many friends and family sharing the event.

Gutmann says the breakfast couldn’t be accomplished without the help of so many people who knew her dad, have been affected by the disease or who simply support it, because they know how important it is to the Gutmann family. The event is always held around Veterans’ Day and at VFW Post 857, which donates the space and coffee.

The most recent event was attended by nearly 300 people and included staff from local Parkview Hospital who spoke about pancreatic cancer and answered questions. On the morning of the event, the day dawned with a beautiful purple sunrise.

How does the Gutmann family stay motivated after 12 years? First and foremost, it’s about the four grandsons their dad never got to meet. “They all contribute, and although they never met their grandfather, they can see how special he was to us, through the event.”

Gutmann also notes, doing nothing about the cancer that took her dad is not an option. Ultimately, the Gutmann family’s motivation is love.

What is your motivation to Demand Better for patients and families? Get creative and host your own fundraiser using Wage Hope My Way!